The story is that a young Ricky Nelson once took a girl on a date. When Elvis Presley came on the radio she stopped paying any attention to Nelson, so he vowed he would become a popular singer. He went to a studio and cut a demo tape of a cover of Fats Domino’s “I’m Walkin.’”
Dad Ozzie heard it, liked it, and said he should sing it on “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet,” the popular and long-running television series of the 1950s and ’60s that featured the Nelson family.
It became a hit, Ricky Nelson became a singing star, and females paid far more attention to him – even when Elvis was on the radio.
Ozzie Nelson was a former bandleader, Harriett Hilliard Nelson was a former band singer, and their two children were David and Ricky. Ricky’s twin sons Gunnar and Matthew tell this story in their show “Ricky Nelson Remembered,” a tribute to their father they’ve been performing for the past few years that comes to Cache Creek on Saturday.
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Gunnar and Matthew followed in the family tradition, becoming double-platinum recording artists as the ’80s glam-metal band Nelson. Their song “Love and Affection” was not only a hit, but it helped the Nelson family set a record for having No. 1 recordings in three generations. They sing their own songs in the show as well as their father’s.
Ricky Nelson may not be as well known as some of his singing contemporaries – and perhaps not known at all by younger generations (he died in a plane crash on Dec. 31, 1985) – but his impact on the entertainment industry has been significant. He is largely seen as one of the creators of the conceptual music video (for “Traveling Man”); he’s the only entertainer to have a No. 1 TV series, recording and movie in the same week (the film is the still-often-shown “Rio Bravo” with John Wayne and Dean Martin); and he’s one of the earliest singers to move rockabilly into country rock.
“Ricky Nelson Remembered” features film clips and stills from his career and is filled with genuine affection for a father from his sons. (8 p.m. Saturday; $25, $35; cachecreek.com )
Also on the agenda this week: Three Dog Night makes a quick jump from Reno’s Street Vibrations to Cache Creek tonight (9 p.m.; $49, $59, $75). You can check out some genuine “Betcha By Golly Wow” music from the Stylistics, joined by former Tower of Power singer Lenny Williams, also tonight at Thunder Valley. (7:30 p.m.; $39.50, $49.59; thundervalleyresort.com)
And Reno hosts the last of its major street festivals, the very popular Great Eldorado Italian Festival, on Virginia Street both Saturday and Sunday (9 a.m. to 5 p.m.). Grape-stomping contests, bocce ball, food booths and plenty of entertainment on two stages. New this year is Michael Barimo, singer and whistler featured on “The David Letterman Show” and Disney Channel’s “3rd and Bird.” (For the full schedule, go to eldoradoreno.com.)